Parties lament that elections won’t happen this year too.
NEW DELHI: After the extension of deadline for the final publication of electoral rolls in Jammu and Kashmir by the Election Commission (EC), political parties in the state are planning to go back to hibernation and are lamenting that the elections won’t happen this year too. Earlier, the timeline of 31 October was decided by the poll panel for the publication of electoral rolls, which has now been extended by 25 days. The final date of 25 November has been declared for publication of electoral rolls.
Many leaders believe that the date of publication of electoral rolls will immediately be followed by a four-month long and harsh winter and that will eventually shelve the elections at least for this year and a few more months into the next year.
According to sources aware of the matter, Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party (JKAP) helmed by Altaf Bukhari, and Jammu and Kashmir People’ Conference (JKPC) lead by Sajjad Lone had started preparations at the district level, but now all these parties have slowed down their activities abruptly. Bukhari was formerly in PDP and later expelled by the party and then formed his own JKAP. Lone’s JKPC was a constituent of the NDA alliance from 2014 to 2019.
However, two major parties in the state, the National Conference and People’s Democratic Party, have not initiated any political activities or mobilised their cadres. Talking to The Sunday Guardian, NC and PDP leaders said that they are least expecting the elections to be held anytime soon. “Only when the EC categorically declares that the elections will take place at a particular time, can we start our preparations,” an NC leader said. AAP, a new entrant in the state, is also keeping low as its central leadership also is currently focussed on the two election-bound states of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. A leader in the party said, “kuch nai horaha hai abi” (nothing is happening currently).
The Congress has also not started any reorganisation of its state cadre and has become politically inactive in election preparations. The party is marred by infighting in the state unit and as its leaders say, “the party leaders are scattered”. Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami, who is currently the spokesperson of the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), which constitutes PDP, NC, CPIM and Awami National Conference (ANC), said, “As far as PAGD is concerned, we don’t have any illusion about the policies, intentions of the Government of India; since 5 August 2019, they did what could have been avoided, in the interest of people of Jammu and Kashmir, they did what was unprecedented, and in our view, that goes against the history of the Constitution.”
He further said, “We want to convey to the government to take one step to bridge the gap between Delhi and Kashmir; rather, the gaps have not only widened but also deepened. In Parliament, the Home minister had said that statehood will be restored while abrogating Article 370 and 35A, and that he had promised on the floor of the House. He also said that as soon as normalcy in the state is restored, statehood will be restored. Now, they are claiming that normalcy is there, there is no violence, development has taken place and yet, there is no restoration of statehood. Now they conducted delimitation, which is virtually implementing the agenda of the ruling party.”